The importance of pharmacies in regional communities

20 June, 2023

I have actually seen figures—private figures given to me—from a pharmacist who runs three or four pharmacies in my area and others. I have seen what these changes will do to their bottom line. I have seen that he is arguing to me that it will cost jobs in his businesses. I have seen what others have argued to me, from Phillip Island to San Remo and down to Grantville—all the way through my regional areas. They are saying to me that these changes will force them to close the very small pharmacies that they've got in local communities, especially in country and regional areas.

This is really important to me, because sometimes the only health care provided in districts and electorates like mine is through the local pharmacist. That's the only way people are able to get some medical information, benefit or whatever their need may be before they have to go on quite a trip to get to a hospital or a GP. Because of that interaction every month, the pharmacist gets to see the person involved. It's very similar to aged care. If gastroenteritis goes through an aged-care community and the doctor only comes once a week, if Mrs Jones isn't diagnosed as having gastro, she can be so dehydrated by the time the doctor does come that it may be too late for her in that situation. You can't expect the tea lady taking the morning tea around to particular clients in the aged-care setting to diagnose why somebody may not be eating or taking their cup of tea. It's not up to them.

When pharmacists are seeing clients once a month rather than every two months, they actually get a chance to assess how the medicines are going, whether they need to attend a doctor for more attention or whether they have deteriorated in the last month. If we leave that for two months, that's six times a year. This system has worked so very well, especially for country communities, that we encourage pharmacists to go out and create these smaller unit pharmacies in more remote locations so that we can have our small communities getting the same sort of service you'd get in a larger community with one, two or three pharmacies. These changes have been put to me by genuine pharmacists coming to me with their issues. I've spoken to them, and they have said to me, 'This will be the result of these government changes.'

I'm not a protector of minority groups of doctors or pharmacists or any group. I'm not. But I like to listen to their genuine concerns, and I like to know that information I'm being given is factual. So when someone gives me the actual books of their chemist shop, and says: 'Here they are. You're a former retailer; you work it out. Here are all the lines, and this is what's going to happen to those lines, and, therefore, some of the things we're doing for free and some of the things we're doing on the cheap, we won't be able to do anymore because we have to keep viability within the business somehow.' And they say: 'I know that I am going to lose a number of valued staff members that I've had for a long time. They're going to lose their jobs because there won't be the work for them to do within the pharmacy.' Even the Prime Minister's own pharmacist said, 'These changes will break me.'

The pharmacies that I deal with are family businesses. They're small businesses in country towns. They are the pharmacists and they are highly regarded within their community. They're highly regarded by me. I'd like to see the government really go and consult with the pharmacists and the pharmacies guild, and see if they can come up with some reasonable changes to this legislation they're putting forward.

Stay In Touch

Please contact my office with any issue or concerns you have. I am here to listen and represent you.
Contact Us
Russell Broadbent MP
Sign up here to receive the latest news from my inbox.